Failure, Rejection, Depression, and Sundry
This post will likely be rambling and a little ranty. (And apparently sappy at the end) You have been warned.
As of Saturday to be on target for my goals this month I needed 21,000 words done. As of Saturday, I had just shy of 9,000. Writing for the last few months has been very difficult for me, like pulling teeth to get any words out at all (which is why that last novel took four months when it should have taken two at most). I’ve engaged a friend in a challenge (with whole dinners on the line!) for monthly word count goals in the hopes that I can shove past whatever is blocking me. Last week, not so much with the shoving, obviously.
Alas, what’s blocking me is… me. Or more specifically my brain chemicals. Lots of quote “creative types” deal with depression and other issues, and I’m no exception unfortunately. I struggle with life-long insomnia issues among other things (which is how I read so damn much, it’s easy to find time to read when you only sleep 2-5 hours a day). Sometimes the writing process just stutters and stops. I think this is one reason I’ve always been a “binge” writer. When I’m running well I have to do as much as I can as fast as I can because I don’t know when suddenly the images will stop forming up right in my head and the mental white noise will start to take over.
The other thing blocking me is my old friend self-doubt. Writing is easy. Writing for a living, not so easy. Especially in the stage I’m in, where I’m starting to break out a bit and hopefully learning my to cross my Ps and dot my Is. Sales are wonderful motivators, but fear of success can be just as deadly as fear of failure. Things are tight right now in my home life because of the sacrifices we’ve made so I can pursue my dream and my goals and now, a year and a half into the ten year plan, the reality of the situation has definitely sunk in. We’re fine, we’re making it work, but as always I can’t help but put pressure on myself to write, do more, learn more, be more. Thinking long-term is good, but it doesn’t necessarily help the short-term panic attacks.
I almost broke my number of rejections in one week record this week, which of course doesn’t help either. I don’t even know what my rejection total is up to, though if I had to guess I’d say over 200 easily. In less than two years. What that number should (and does, when I’m thinking rationally) say to me is that hey, I’m producing and sending out lots of work. But sometimes I stare at yet another “this was well-written but no thanks” or “this was fun, but ultimately we decided not to publish it” etc and think “so they don’t like fun, well-written work. What the hell should I be writing?”. It’s a war inside between the rational/business brain telling me that it isn’t personal (because it really, really isn’t) and that I just need to take a deep breath and put the story back in the mail, and the irrational side of my brain “zomg u suckzorz and r gettin wurse. stUpid RITUR.”
What does this all really mean? Basically…nothing. So I’m 12,000 words behind where I needed to be. Over the next few weeks I can easily find another 12-15 hours somewhere in there to catch myself up. It’s adding an hour a day to a couple weeks of work. Rationally not a big deal. What does the rejection mean? Again, not much (beyond the fact that hey, apparently I write fun, well-written stories and stuff). But the depression, the sleeplessness, the slog, it all combines to make my life not peachy at the moment. I’ll catch up though (so stop planning your sushi outing, Amanda…) because I hate to lose a bet for one, and because any job has bad days, and any job I have is one that gets affected by my depression/insomnia issues, and in the end, I get to sit on my ass and make shit up and people have paid me (and will pay me in the future damnit!) to do this. Which is still awesome, any way you look at it.
So for anyone who is struggling this month (and let’s face it, November ain’t a great month. I didn’t like it before my brother died during it and I sure don’t care for it afterward either), you’re okay. Everything will work out. If you are doing NaNoWriMo and you fail one day, or one week, no need to stress. It’s cool. Think about it this way: if you fall short by 10 or 20 or even 30k words, you’ve still written 40 or 30 or 20k words more than you would have if you hadn’t even tried at all. And for all the writers in my shoes, us neo-pros who see more no than yes still, it’ll get better. We’re just getting started. Sure, we take a few on the chin during the opening round, but really, we’re just lulling our opponents into a false sense of superiority. The next story we write? It’s going to KO some editor, somewhere, sometime. As long as we don’t throw in the towel, as long as we keep sitting on our asses and making shit up and sticking it in the mail. Because that’s what counts and that’s the only score worth keeping.
It never ends.